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Kayaks

Types of Kayaks

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Recreational Kayaks

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Sit-on-Top Kayaks

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Touring Kayaks

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Whitewater Kayaks

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Fishing Kayaks

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Inflatable Kayaks

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Folding Kayaks

Top Picks

How we choose: The best kayaks highlighted here were selected based on 160 reviews of 106 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Top Recreational Kayak / Sit-on-Top

Old Town Vapor 10

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6 reviews)

Best for lakes and slow rivers, for anyone wanting an easy little boat with plenty of room for gear.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Holds a lot of gear

Reasons to Avoid

  • The seat needs padding.

Been out in this 10-foot sit-in kayak for several trips this spring including a short camping trip upriver.  This one has plenty of room for gear including a dry hatch in back with a lockable rubber top that holds a small flexible cooler, a duffle bag, and room for more stuff crammed in the crannies. There's room behind the seat for a sleeping bag, room between your feet for more gear, and a installed criss-cross bungee kit on front of the kayak that can hold two chairs in bags. It has a couple of hooks and smaller little bungees around the cockpit to attach handy things like camera or phone.

Read more: Old Town Vapor 10 reviews (6)

Recreational Kayak

Wilderness Systems Pungo 120

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4 reviews)

Super stable and tracks well. This is a great kayak for touring around lakes and rivers. Great for beginner paddlers and beyond.

Reasons to Buy

  • Stable
  • Tracks well
  • Easy to adjust foot pegs
  • Seat is comfortable
  • Included kayak console

Reasons to Avoid

  • Water tight hatch not perfectly water tight
  • Kayak console can be in the way of long legs sometimes

I've been a canoer my entire life but decided that my big 15' canoe was a bit too heavy for me to man-handle alone so I sold it and bought the 12' Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 kayak which weighs about 49 pounds (30 pounds less than my old canoe).   I had never sat in a kayak before and I was a little nervous about how different it might be from my canoeing experience. My concerns were misplaced though because this kayak is very user friendly. Getting in and out of it is a breeze. The cockpit opening is HUGE and the boat is so stable I had no trouble standing up in the kayak on the water while holding onto nothing to help me get in/out.

Read more: Wilderness Systems Pungo 120 reviews (4)

Top Folding Kayak

Oru Kayak Bay ST

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

Folds up to take up very little space; is lightweight and portable (don't need a special rack on my car).

Reasons to Buy

  • Folds up so it doesn't take up lots of space
  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Tracks pretty well

Reasons to Avoid

  • Will sink if flipped without ballast bags
  • Tricky to unfold/refold without practice

Folds up to take up very little space (approximately 30" x 30" x 10"); is lightweight (~25 lbs) and portable (don't need a special rack on my car), fits inside a Ford Taurus' trunk (I have fold down seats in the back but it'll fit in a taurus without those seats too). Can be [semi-easily/inexpensively] checked on a plane! Folds out to ~25'. Tracks fairly straight in water. Can be tricky to unfold/refold without practice, but the Oru company's online videos are helpful. Material is similar to the white plastic corrugated material that post office bins are made out of.

Read more: Oru Kayak Bay ST reviews (2)

Top Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements Lagoon1

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

This inflatable folding kayak is portable on buses and inside SmartCars and by small people. A very dependable recreational kayak, well-made with a terrific warranty. Available from the manufacturer, some stores, and West Marine stores and website.

Reasons to Buy

  • I can carry all my gear, boat and all, everywhere.
  • Tough materials in a good design
  • Affordable but not flimsy
  • Good customer service and online discussion forum

Reasons to Avoid

  • Recreational boat is not a high-speed 20-ft sea kayak
  • This is a real boat and it can get you far away from shore when a storm blows in
  • Small for carrying camping gear; get the Expedition model instead

The Lagoon is my favourite kayak of the several different boats I own. I've used an older version of the Lagoon for eight years without it failing. It's still a reliable, convenient recreational kayak. Here's a photo of me using it for the first time, in 2006. This 9'6" kayak is very stable, very confidence-building, very responsive to the paddler's moves. Hundreds of times it's been inflated and used, then deflated and put away. I've banged it into docks, run it up onto rocky beaches, and waves shuffled me across barnacled rocks without any damage beyond a few light scratches on the outside of the outer hull.

Read more: Advanced Elements Lagoon1 review (1)

Recreational Kayak

Old Town Dirigo 106

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

Great rec kayak for lakes and slow rivers, capable of light overnight trips.

Reasons to Buy

  • Durable
  • Light
  • Stable
  • Comfortable seat
  • Lock down hatch

Reasons to Avoid

  • None that I can think of

Have had this kayak almost three years. I've dragged it, banged it, shot over ice and hit bottom more than a few times. Aside from a few scratches, the hull is perfectly intact.  It's easy to get in and out of, has a very comfortable and well adjustable seat, a fairly big water-tight hatch on the back (enough for a tent and sleeping gear), a little water-tight hatch on the dash for keys or a cellphone (I use this hatch regularly and it hasn't failed), adjustable foot stays, bungee tie-downs on the front top which hold extra gear well, a paddle holder, knee pads, and a good skirt lip.

Read more: Old Town Dirigo 106 reviews (2)

Recreational Kayak

Old Town Heron 9XT

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

A lot of boat in a small affordable package!

Reasons to Buy

  • Price
  • Maneuverability
  • Durability
  • Comfort

Reasons to Avoid

  • Front storage
  • Cup holder
  • Drain plug

I should start off by saying that I really love this boat...and every piece of gear (even that you make) is usually a compromise…and the Heron 9XT is no exception. My complaints aren’t so much about a lack of high-end features as it is low-end features…but let’s start with the things that I really dig about this boat. The Good: First…the price…I was working on a very small budget…and did not want to spend a lot of money on a kayak…but still wanted a boat that was capable of soloing trips as long as 10 days or more…so safety (keeping things dry + maneuverability) and comfort (roominess + back-support) were not things I wanted to sacrifice on too much.

Read more: Old Town Heron 9XT reviews (2)

Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle Explorer 380x Pro Package

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Extremely versatile, portable, easy to use "water SUV" that is perfect for any type of adventure one could imagine.

Reasons to Buy

  • Very stable; almost impossible to tip over
  • Lightweight (the lightest in its category)
  • Huge buoyancy (750 lbs/340 kg)
  • Maneuverable; easy handling
  • Very rugged

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not the fastest kayak out there
  • No splash protection
  • Not the most convenient to portage

This review is for the Sea Eagle Explorer 380X Pro package. The major difference between Pro and Deluxe is the seats: I like Pro seats much better but for more information look it up at the manufacturer website. I've been using this kayak for three seasons now and the fourth season is approaching. The quality of the kayak itself is fairly good: the body/hull is intact and holds up well but some accessories that came with the kayak had been replaced during the warranty period. Specifically, paddles and the foot pump are the weakest links.

Read more: Sea Eagle Explorer 380x Pro Package review (1)

Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle Sport 370

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

Very good for flat water, but challenging for fishing.

Reasons to Buy

  • Portability
  • Size
  • Price

Reasons to Avoid

  • Difficult to customize

UPDATE 8/28/16: Took the SE370 down Bear River in Colfax, Calif., for some low key white water. She stood up just fine, bounced off rocks and made the requisite hard turns to avoid bad spills. Came to a screeching halt at one point when we didn't clear a big rock. The kayak stopped dead, I went flying forward, and the seat pulled loose (but didn't leave the boat). I got settled back down, bounced the boat free and I was off again. No damage to the kayak at all. Overall, an excellent experience on my first experience with any kind of white water.  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I bought this kayak for fishing at my local reservoir.

Read more: Sea Eagle Sport 370 reviews (2)

Recreational Kayak / Sit-on-Top

Old Town Vapor 10XT

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Great beginner kayak for flat water and occasional users. This is the XP model which adds a hatch cover. Otherwise the same as the Vapor 10.

Reasons to Buy

  • Big and flat means stable
  • Large opening great if you are a bigger person
  • Adjustable seat is easily done on the fly
  • Adjustable foot pegs

Reasons to Avoid

  • Cup holder at front of cockpit is not reachable while in the seat
  • No bungies on deck to hold gear and looks difficult to add any kit to it.

This is a great little kayak. I have used it for three years on flat waters of Lake Mead, Lake Mojave, and the Colorado River below Hoover Dam The difference between the Vapor 10 and the Vapor 10XT is that the XT has a cover on the rear hatch. That is great for keeping your items safely secured. I modified the hatch by insulating it with foam and it actually makes a great ice chest for food and water on hot days out on the river. The large opening make it great for access...especially if you are a larger person.

Read more: Old Town Vapor 10XT review (1)

Recreational Kayak

Wilderness Systems Pamlico 145T Tandem

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

This kayak is fantastic. Handles with ease, solo or tandem. Great all around kayak with wonderful versatility.

Reasons to Buy

  • Versatility

Reasons to Avoid

  • A bit heavy

I have had this kayak for three years. This yak is great. Can be switched to solo or tandem by simply moving the front seat to one of the other positions. I can put it on the roof of my SUV the same way you would a canoe, no special racks needed. The cockpit is very large and the seats are very comfortable with many adjustment options. When using it in solo mode the balance is great and the storage space is abundant. Tandem or solo it tracks wonderful and glides across the water with minimal effort. 

Read more: Wilderness Systems Pamlico 145T Tandem reviews (2)

More Kayaks

Trailspace reviewers have shared 160 reviews of 106 different kayaks. Narrow your search and view more specific kayak recommendations in these categories:

Recreational Kayaks

Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Touring Kayaks

Whitewater Kayaks

Fishing Kayaks

Inflatable Kayaks

Folding Kayaks

All Paddling Gear

Other Types of Paddling Gear

Find more paddling gear reviewed in these related categories:

Canoes

Rafts

Stand-Up Paddle Boards

+7 more types

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